U.K. Retail Sales Had Steepest December Drop Since 2010

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

U.K. retail sales fell steeply on the month in December, new figures showed Friday, with Britons paring back spending after taking advantage of Black Friday discounts the previous month.

While retail makes up only a small part of the U.K.'s economic activity, the latest data signal that the consumer squeeze evident since the 2016 Brexit vote is not letting up. This is a concern for the largely domestic-driven economy, which had already slowed in 2017.

Continue Reading Below

The Office for National Statistics said sales fell by 1.5% compared with the previous month. This was nearly double the decline anticipated by analysts polled by The Wall Street Journal.

December's was the steepest monthly drop in sales since June 2016, the month of the Brexit referendum, and the biggest decline for that month in seven years.

The fall followed a 1.0% monthly increase in November, driven by Black Friday discounts as well as by Britons' early Christmas purchases, government statisticians said. Compared with the same month a year earlier, sales grew by 1.4%, significantly below analysts' expectations.

The overall picture was one of slowing growth in retail, the statisticians added.

Overall, retail sales made almost no positive contribution to quarterly economic growth in the final three months of 2017, the ONS said.

Write to Wiktor Szary at Wiktor.Szary@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 19, 2018 04:53 ET (09:53 GMT)

Continue Reading Below